Background and Joe’s view of our border crisis:
If you even remotely pay attention to the news, you know that the number of people coming across our borders has increased exponentially over the last couple of years. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the total number of Border Patrol encounters in fiscal year (FY) 2021 was 1,662,167. So far in FY 2022, that number is 1,822,160 (the FY ends September 30). This can be compared to 405,036 in FY 2020, for almost a 350% increase from 2020 to 2022.
Drugs are also coming over the border at an alarming rate. Ninety percent of heroin makes its way into U.S. communities through our southern border and it is safe to assume this is true of many other drugs as well. In late August of 2022, four pounds of fentanyl powder was seized by CBP in Nogales, AZ. That is enough to kill the entire population of Dallas, TX! Additionally, CBP has seized over 10,000 pounds of fentanyl since October 2021.
The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) concurs that most illegal drugs enter the U.S. through Mexico. Unfortunately, they believe that only a fraction of these drugs is being seized. In a July 2022 report for CIS, Andrew Arthur explained that drug seizures at the border are down significantly for the year, and he makes the case that this is not because fewer drugs are entering the U.S. Arthur states that CDC statistics, which show an increase in U.S. drug overdose deaths from 67,367 in 2018 to 107,622 in 2021, clearly illustrate that the flow of deadly drugs is increasing. He makes the case that drug cartels are finding innovative ways to smuggle drugs into the U.S. and that CBP agents, who are already stretched thin by the overwhelming number of illegal immigrants crossing the border, do not have the resources to effectively combat this problem.
Human trafficking and violence are among other significant problems that occur along our southern border. Government estimates reveal that roughly 30 percent of women are sexually assaulted and 70% of migrants experience some form of violence on the journey to the U.S.
Recidivism, a term which refers to the percentage of individuals apprehended more than one time by the Border Patrol within a fiscal year, is another problem that appears to be on the rise. According to government statistics, recidivism for the last several years ranged from a low of 7% in FY 2019 to a high of 27% in FY 2021 — the last year for which statistics are available and the first year of Biden’s open border policies.
The current administration’s border policies also represent an open door for terrorists to enter the U.S. CBP uses the term TSDB to refer to suspected terrorists identified by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database. Before retiring in August 2021, then Border Patrol head Rodney Scott sent a video message to his agents. In this message he stated: “I firmly believe that it is a national security crisis. Immigration is just a subcomponent of it, and right now, it’s just a cover for massive amounts of smuggling going across the southwest border — to include TSDBs at a level we have never seen before. That's a real threat.”
Migrant deaths are yet another tragedy that results from the border crisis. The group Border Angels estimates that since 1994, about 10,000 people have died in their attempt to cross the border. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 7,216 people died crossing the U.S–Mexico border between 1998 and 2017. At least 650 people died crossing the U.S. Border last year and one of the latest examples of migrant deaths occurred in June of 2022 in what one Homeland Security investigator called the deadliest human smuggling incident in U.S. history. According to CNN, this characterization came after 53 people died in an abandoned tractor-trailer near San Antonio, TX. The deaths were attributed to heat related conditions and they occurred on a stretch of highway often used by human smugglers.
It is clear that it is not an overstatement to say that the situation at our southern border is at a point of crisis. The question is: What should be done to address this crisis?
Joe’s Border Solutions
Joe From Texas believes it is clear that we need a border wall or barrier. Given the unique terrain at various points along the border and other differences, the best solution may not look the same in every area along the border. Common sense dictates that a border in name only, with no barriers, is an invitation for trouble.
Although President Trump was correct on his stand for a border wall and deserves credit for this stand, Joe From Texas believes the issue is not about any one person. However one may feel about President Trump, the issue of a border wall is about the safety and security of the people of the United States. It is a serious issue and one that should not be politicized. · Construction cost estimates to build a border wall are generally within $20-25 billion, ( although some estimates reach as high as $70 billion). The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) calculates that the annual cost burden of illegal immigration in the U.S. has risen to $132 billion, and it could further increase to $200 billion by 2025. So, a border wall is actually a great return on investment because it saves the U.S. taxpayer money in the long run.
“A border wall is an ineffective use of taxpayer dollars,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a daily briefing in July 2022.. Since this is coming from the press secretary for a President who has neither visited nor secured the border, you will have to pardon Joe From Texas for taking this statement as uninformed political rhetoric, rather than as a well-informed opinion.
One of the reasons that democrats like Jean-Pierre say a wall is ineffective is because it is not 100% effective. In this, they are correct; however, just because it is not 100% effective does not mean that it will not stop the great majority of people and contraband, such as drugs, being smuggled across the border. Suppose a border wall or barrier is 90% effective, would that make it worth constructing? Let’s examine just how ridiculous Jean-Pierre’s statement really is by looking at some examples of everyday barriers.
Prisons have walls and fences, but we know they are not 100% effective because people have escaped from prisons on occasion. The degree of effectiveness is there because escapes are very rare. The Huntsville Unit of the Texas State Prison system is located in Huntsville, Texas. Like other prisons, it also has walls and fences. Imagine for a minute that you live in and are raising your family in the City of Huntsville, then one day people from the state corrections office come to town with news that the prison will remain, but they are going to do away with the walls and fences. There will be no more barriers to keep prisoners in and instead they will rely only on prison guards and the promises of prisoners to not try to escape. Would this make you feel more secure? Of course not, because those walls and fences, in conjunction with the prison guards, provide the security that assures you that your family is safe and allows you to sleep at night. This is because you know the walls and fences are effective.
Your home also has walls that perform multiple functions, including enabling you to control the environment inside your home. Perhaps their most important function is to provide a level of security for you and your family. Your walls are the building block of your home security that is completed by locks on your doors and windows. These walls protect you and they protect the things that you own. In this example, it is probably safe to say that the walls are virtually 100% effective for security because almost all break-ins occur through a door or window instead of a wall. You probably would not feel safe sleeping on your property under a roof with no walls. Walls are an efficient element of security.
The same is also true of other types of barriers. They are generally very effective for the purposes for which they are constructed. For example, we use fences in yards and places like daycare centers and schools because they are successful at keeping in things that we want to keep in (children, pets, etc.) and keeping out the things that we want to keep out, such as intruders.
Joe From Texas believes that a border wall, in and of itself, is an important building block to a solution, but it is not the sole solution. In order to be effective, such a wall needs to be constantly monitored and requires ample technological resources and manpower to watch it.
In business terminology, walls are a tactic (in the case of the border, a critical one), not a strategy. Because they can provide immediate relief to the problems at hand, walls (in combination with other tools) can buy decision makers the time they need to assess a situation and respond accordingly.
An example of this can be found in Arizona, where CBP law enforcement personnel are testing the latest technology – such as unmanned aerial vehicles and new radio and surveillance systems – aimed at shoring up the U.S. southern border by augmenting the skills already employed by Border Patrol agents on the ground in conjunction with the wall. In brief, the wall, the technology, and the Border Patrol agents used in different proportions depending on the location provide for an effective deterrence. Stephen Spencer, assistant chief patrol agent in Tucson stated “these items help make sure we’re able to respond quickly, while not wasting time responding to false positives, such as a cow or horse wandering into the border area.”
A wall, agents, and technology have proven most effective when used in the right combination to improve border security. For example, today, the area along the border near San Diego has a second layer of woven wire fence about 100 to 200 yards from the first fence to provide an enforcement zone for agents patrolling the border. With lighting, a state-of-the-art surveillance system, and a paved road that gives access to Border Patrol vehicles, agents respond more quickly and the flow of illegal aliens has decreased significantly. The same sector that annually caught more than 500,000 illegal aliens now apprehends about 27,000 illegal aliens each year. Similar efforts along the Arizona-Mexico border in the last 18 years saw corresponding success rates of cutting illegal crossings by more than 90%.
“We have proven that a wall system – that actually has impedance and denial, physical barriers, combined with access roads so agents can move east and west, laterally along the border, and the latest technology and personnel – can secure the border,” said retired Border Patrol head Rodney Scott.
Although the examples above demonstrate that a wall/barrier combined with the right manpower and technology can be very effective, Joe From Texas is frustrated that only a portion of the roughly 2,000 mile border is protected by any sort of barrier. Joe and his team searched records to find just how much of the border has some sort of barrier and they found conflicting information on the exact number of miles containing barriers from different sources. One of those sources was a USA Today report that had figures that were similar to other information found. That report stated: “About 650 miles of the 2,000 mile border is fenced, leaving 1,350 miles open. Of that 650 miles of fencing, about half is designed to stop only vehicles, not people.” As evidenced by statements from Border Patrol officials above, open areas that have no barriers are the source of the majority of the problems along our southern border. Joe From Texas believes the entire border should contain barriers that can deter both vehicles and people.
Although the border states of Arizona and Texas are working to implement state coordinated solutions to put in place their own walls/barriers, Joe From Texas believes it is unfortunate that they have to do so. The Biden administration, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and their democratic colleagues in congress seem to want the government to control every aspect of life for U.S. citizens; however, when it comes to fulfilling a duty that is clearly part of their responsibility, they are at best AWOL (absent without leave) or at worst guilty of dereliction of duty. These are many of the same people who implement ridiculous policies that present Border Patrol agents with a nearly impossible task, and then criticize them when it is politically expedient to do so for not effectively doing their jobs.
Joe From Texas believes the beginning of a solution to our border problem is at hand and is quite simple. In the upcoming midterm election, we need to replace every congressman and senator who refuses to provide very vocal support for a border wall and instead runs his or her mouth about how a wall is “ineffective.” The Border Patrol agents who risk their lives everyday deserve better and so do the citizens of the United States.